I guess the issue was your comment read like it was the 'dick jokes' part that you have an issue with, rather than the 'crudely drawn' part. Would you be equally frustrated with crudely-drawn school jokes, or game jokes being popular? What about meticulously-rendered dick jokes? :]
Again, I'm more accustomed to the word 'degenerate' meaning 'vulgar' rather than 'low-effort', so I hope you understand why people might think you're against sexual stuff :]
Moving on from that though, I'll restate that I don't think it's a matter of readers preferring quick jokes and being unable to appreciate something 'deeper'.
Yes, a creator who focuses on quick jokes attains more immediate popularity and has a better chance at sustaining that popularity because quick jokes are easy to produce and it's viable for a creator to churn them out on a regular basis.
The reason why people who try to produce something 'genuinely greater' (i.e. something with more effort and thought put behind it) do not gain traction as easily is because they've been spending all their time and energy working on their piece instead of being visible on social media. So when they finally get around to releasing their masterpiece, no-one knows who they are.
Sure, you can take the approach of releasing your big project piecemeal, like most webcomic creators. But there are still issues with that:
- Each little piece of the puzzle is not its own discrete thing like a quick joke is - for a satisfying experience, the reader needs the whole thing, and there is no guarantee you're going to end up giving them the whole thing. Then if the reader is anything like me, they will wait until you accumulate more of a backlog and preferably hit the end of an arc before they binge it, rather than read every update as it comes out and supply you with continuous engagement.
- Content with a lot of thought put into it has a higher effort-to-output ratio than quick jokes. So 4 panels of your magnum opus is still going to take longer to make than 4 panels of a quick gag strip you pulled out of your ass. Therefore it's harder to put out consistent updates, and readers will drop off because they're getting bored of waiting for you to put out the next update. And if you build a buffer so you can afford to put things out consistently, then you're back the no-one knows who you are issue because you've spent all that time building up your buffer instead of being on social media.
Note that none of these issues are because 'viewers are morons who can't appreciate true art'. The issue is that 'true art' takes a lot of time to make, and no-one's gonna stick around waiting for you to make it when they could be looking at other things and there's no guarantee you'll finish your masterpiece anyway. It's a resource economy thing, not a 'smh unwashed philistines' thing.
So in order to create 'true art', you need to be okay with sitting in obscurity for a while and do the work even if you're not getting anything out of it immediately. Delayed gratification! It's hard, but once you've finished the piece you've been envisioning, that's the time to show it to the world. And you might still not get much engagement at first, but your creation exists now, and for as long as it exists, it has the chance to be seen. And for as long as you still believe in the importance of what you've created, you'll keep showing it to the world, showing it to anyone who's willing to look.
And people will look. You're not the only one who's frustrated with the sea of low effort content; people are always looking for something greater, something with heart. But they're looking for the content itself; not the promise of such content - you have to actually have the whole thing ready to put in front of them. (Anyone who has avoided watching a show because they heard the ending was bad would understand :'D)
I wouldn't be so sure about that either tbh. People suck at talking, and the majority of people who read your comic are not going to naturally have something worth saying about it, no matter how good your comic is. In fact, if it ever happens that a large proportion of my viewers are also commenters, I'm going to start wondering if they're forcing themselves to think of something to say out of an obligation to 'support' me :'D
If you're really focused on getting people to talk, you know the most effective way to do that? Getting them mad. Outrage is the most reliable means of getting someone clacking away at their keyboards; whether outrage at you or outrage at something they think you're also mad about.
I do think it's clever and healthy to incite thoughtful debate by making controversial content that talks about the sensitive topics in an original and even-handed way, but I don't think it's great to be the kind of creator that gets their audience to yammer on about the same topics over and over again in ways that we've all heard before a million times. But that's where you end up, if you're truly focused on optimizing for audience engagement